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The Suburbs Take Center Stage at the Republican National Convention

To deliver President Trump’s campaign talking point on how Democrats will “abolish the suburbs,” the GOP made a revealing choice. 

Mark and Patricia McCloskey confront protesters in St. Louis in June. The couple were both later charged with unlawful use of a weapon. 

Mark and Patricia McCloskey confront protesters in St. Louis in June. The couple were both later charged with unlawful use of a weapon. 

Photographer: Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The couple who became famous for brandishing firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters were given a platform at the Republican National Convention to speak to a subject that has become central to President Donald Trump’s re-election bid: the suburbs.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who face felony charges for waving their guns at demonstrators who were passing their St. Louis mansion, made a brief address arguing that Democrats aim to put a stop to the suburban way of life. “They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning,” Patricia McCloskey said. “This forced rezoning would bring crime, lawlessness, and low-quality apartments into now-thriving suburban neighborhoods.”

By casting the McCloskeys as the face of the Trump administration’s defense of suburbia, the GOP reveals its true target. After all, the couple doesn’t live in the suburbs: They live in the vibrant and relatively dense Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis. When they stood on the terrace of their “Midwestern palazzo” with weapons drawn, they weren’t guarding it against city planners. Yet in their address, they conflate the prospect of more housing with a threat of violence, and respond in kind. By evoking the Second Amendment in the same breath as they projected their right to live in an exclusive neighborhood, the McCloskeys raised the stakes of contemporary debates about zoning — pointing backward to the bloody history of racial integration in America.